Music lessons

I thought I was pretty up on contemporary culture for someone past the half century, but then I saw on “American Idol” that this guest artist (I can’t even remember her name!) was about to pass Elvis in some major milestone. Elvis! And I didn’t even notice her. When the Idols sang her songs, which the judges talked like were golden oldies, I knew none of them! Not that I missed anything, since they sounded to my ears like the most bombastic dreck. These songs made Elvis seem like Shostakovich.

Anyway, although I am not unlearned about popular music, I am way out of date. Not that an adult should be fixated on angst-ridden music for teenagers, but there can still be music out there that merits attention. I have a student, Nathan Martin, who is my tutor about today’s music. He burns me CD samplers of contemporary music that he thinks might interest me. I admit that some fine musicians are making good music today, though I can’t remember their names either.

Nathan is working with some other Patrick Henry College students on a webzine entitled Patrol. Go there for contemporary music criticism and good writing. I’ve added it to my blogroll. As a sample, I offer this account
of the recent demise of “CCM,” the contemporary Christian Music magazine that just went out of business, giving thoughtful insights about this frustrating genre.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Ted

    Mariah Carey.

    I once managed a music store. After leaving, I “lost touch” in about five years. The scene, like the world, quickly passes away.

  • Ted

    Mariah Carey.

    I once managed a music store. After leaving, I “lost touch” in about five years. The scene, like the world, quickly passes away.

  • kerner

    I don’t watch “American Idol’, but how can you not know who Mariah Carey is? She has been in every celebrity magazine for almost a couple of decades. Don’t you ever get bored in the check out line at the super market?

    But, I agree with you about her music. Mariah Carey pioneered that female vocal style that is so full of vocal gymnastics, you can’t recognize the tune. And many female vocalists have now adopted this style, more’s the pity.

    I will give her credit for “All I want for Christmas is You”, which has no spiritual or theological value, but is a fun and sappy love song. I don’t think I would recognize any of her other songs if I heard them.

  • kerner

    I don’t watch “American Idol’, but how can you not know who Mariah Carey is? She has been in every celebrity magazine for almost a couple of decades. Don’t you ever get bored in the check out line at the super market?

    But, I agree with you about her music. Mariah Carey pioneered that female vocal style that is so full of vocal gymnastics, you can’t recognize the tune. And many female vocalists have now adopted this style, more’s the pity.

    I will give her credit for “All I want for Christmas is You”, which has no spiritual or theological value, but is a fun and sappy love song. I don’t think I would recognize any of her other songs if I heard them.

  • CRB

    Kerner,
    And here I thought it was Whitney Houston who started
    all the “yelling”!

  • CRB

    Kerner,
    And here I thought it was Whitney Houston who started
    all the “yelling”!

  • WebMonk

    I realize that the Elvis name has a lot of mythos with it, but it was just a matter of time until someone finally beat his records. It is just a matter of population and distribution. There are billions more people now than in the 40s, 50s and 60s, and distribution of music in all its formats is MUCH easier and cheaper today.

    Put those together, and it is inevitable that someone will beat Elvis’s records eventually. It’s just a matter of when. The truly impressive thing about his records is that it has taken this long for them to fall!

  • WebMonk

    I realize that the Elvis name has a lot of mythos with it, but it was just a matter of time until someone finally beat his records. It is just a matter of population and distribution. There are billions more people now than in the 40s, 50s and 60s, and distribution of music in all its formats is MUCH easier and cheaper today.

    Put those together, and it is inevitable that someone will beat Elvis’s records eventually. It’s just a matter of when. The truly impressive thing about his records is that it has taken this long for them to fall!

  • http://necessaryroughness.org Dan at Necessary Roughness

    Mariah Carey came out in high school, and the first song I heard was “Someday.” Not really that bad of the song, but right at the end she sings a “some-daaaaaaaay” where the pitch is way up there.

    Hence we called her the Dog Whistle.

  • http://necessaryroughness.org Dan at Necessary Roughness

    Mariah Carey came out in high school, and the first song I heard was “Someday.” Not really that bad of the song, but right at the end she sings a “some-daaaaaaaay” where the pitch is way up there.

    Hence we called her the Dog Whistle.

  • http://necessaryroughness.org Dan at Necessary Roughness

    I should say, came out while I was in high school. :)

  • http://necessaryroughness.org Dan at Necessary Roughness

    I should say, came out while I was in high school. :)

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer TK

    I’ve had the same experience this week. Yesterday, while driving, my favorite radio station was playing a game called “Audio Life” in which a caller is played a tune and then asked to recall a specific memory associated with the song. Each song they played meant absolutely NOTHING to me. I had never heard each of the songs the hosts played. Thankfully, each caller had never heard the songs either.

    Regarding Mariah Carey, my older teens were surprised to know that Mariah Carey had been around for a long time. They thought she was a new artist, based on her recent hits. I, however, remember her as a young artist, then a troubled young woman and now her return to fame as a healthier person.

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer TK

    I’ve had the same experience this week. Yesterday, while driving, my favorite radio station was playing a game called “Audio Life” in which a caller is played a tune and then asked to recall a specific memory associated with the song. Each song they played meant absolutely NOTHING to me. I had never heard each of the songs the hosts played. Thankfully, each caller had never heard the songs either.

    Regarding Mariah Carey, my older teens were surprised to know that Mariah Carey had been around for a long time. They thought she was a new artist, based on her recent hits. I, however, remember her as a young artist, then a troubled young woman and now her return to fame as a healthier person.

  • http://www.faith-filled.com Stephenie

    You should check into Mariah’s diva antics. She’s known more for them than she is for her amazing range.

  • http://www.faith-filled.com Stephenie

    You should check into Mariah’s diva antics. She’s known more for them than she is for her amazing range.

  • Don, the Rebel without a Blog

    I stopped paying much attention to contemporary popular music in the late 1980s (I’m 55 years old). I listen to classical music and the popular music of the 1960s & 70s.

  • Don, the Rebel without a Blog

    I stopped paying much attention to contemporary popular music in the late 1980s (I’m 55 years old). I listen to classical music and the popular music of the 1960s & 70s.

  • http://jramos95.blogspot.com Jay Ramos

    I’ll make a plug for a very neat Web site that I use to discover new music that I would enjoy. It’s called Pandora (www.pandora.com), and you can put in particular artists and/or songs that you like to “seed” a personalized radio station. The site then searches through it’s extensive database to find songs/artists similar to the ones you indicated.

    Give it a shot. I’ve discovered a lot of artists that I never would have otherwise.

  • http://jramos95.blogspot.com Jay Ramos

    I’ll make a plug for a very neat Web site that I use to discover new music that I would enjoy. It’s called Pandora (www.pandora.com), and you can put in particular artists and/or songs that you like to “seed” a personalized radio station. The site then searches through it’s extensive database to find songs/artists similar to the ones you indicated.

    Give it a shot. I’ve discovered a lot of artists that I never would have otherwise.

  • http://www.myguitarlessonssite.com/ Len-Guitar Lessons

    thanks for the blog- interesting comments I think I’ll look at Jay’s “plug”

  • http://www.myguitarlessonssite.com/ Len-Guitar Lessons

    thanks for the blog- interesting comments I think I’ll look at Jay’s “plug”


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